In the co-main we’ll see welterweight contender Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson enter the last chance saloon for title contention when he takes on Belal Muhammad, who is looking to break into the top five of the rankings for the first time.
Last time out at UFC 269 we went 9/14 on the night in a fantastic card to move to 500/779 (64.18%) with 211 perfect picks (42.2%).
We’ll look to end the year on a high here, starting with the early prelims on this 14-fight card.
Jordan Leavitt (8-1) vs Matt Sayles (8-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun lightweight fight opens the card here. Leavitt started his UFC run excellently with slam KO just 22 seconds into his fight against Matt Wiman at UFC Vegas 16, before he dropped a decision to Claudio Puelles at UFC Vegas 28 in his last fight. Sayles hasn’t fought since 2019, where he was beaten by Bryce Mitchell via twister submission.
Leavitt is a solid wrestler with great slams and very crisp submission skills on the mat, while Sayles is a power striker with limited grappling skills. This is a tough return to action for Sayles, who is coming into a fight where his weaknesses are likely to get violently exposed.
Sayles is a natural featherweight making just his second professional appearances as a lightweight, while Leavitt is big for the division. That size will pay dividends when Leavitt goes in search of his takedown, gets it, keeps him down and eventually works his way to the back for a choke victory early on. PICK – Jordan Leavitt via Submission, Round 1
Don’Tale Mayes (8-4) vs Josh Parisian (14-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweights up next as they look to steal the shine early doors. Don’Tale Mayes suffered a heel hook defeat to Ciryl Gane in his UFC debut before getting submitted by Rodrigo Nascimento in May 2020. He finally earned a win when he gained a decision against Roque Martinez most recently at UFC Vegas 14. Parisian on the other hand bounced back from defeat to Parker Porter with a decision win against Martinez himself at UFC Vegas 29.
Both fighters are primary strikers with limited grappling techniques, which means this is likely to become a straight up kickboxing match. Mayes isn’t a great kicker, but he has a size advantage that means his strikes are likely to have a bit more of an effect. Parisian often struggles to maintain distance and finds himself with his back against the fence, which could give Mayes the chance to tee off.
Parisian is the more powerful fighter though who has more experience and he uses leg kicks well to try and keep opponents off him. He’s the busier fighter in the in between moments of the fight and in a fight that I expect to go the difference, that’s usually the difference. PICK – Josh Parisian via Decision
Raquel Pennington (12-9) vs Macy Chiasson (8-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A banger between two ranked bantamweights fighting at featherweight on short-notice. Pennington is on a two-fight win streak after earning decision wins against Marion Reneau and Pannie Kianzad. Chiasson on the other hand is also on a two-fight win streak having defeated Shana Young and Reneau via decision also at UFC Vegas 21.
Pennington is a wrestle-boxer with good combinations who is very good at getting on the inside to help with her small size and stature to affect distance. Chiasson on the other hand is a very tidy kickboxer with good clinchwork and decent KO power too.
This is a 50/50 fight because if Pennington can make it ugly, she has the advantage. She’s extremely well rounded and confident, but the fact this is happening at 145lbs plays into the bigger fighter’s hands. Chiasson will use range, land the bigger shots and make a bigger impression on the judges for a decision win. PICK – Macy Chiasson via Decision
Charles Jourdain (11-4-1) vs Andre Ewell (17-8) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A brilliant featherweight encounter up next. Jourdain is 1-1-1 in his last three, with a draw against Josh Culibao followed up by a KO win over Marcelo Rojo at UFC Vegas 21 and then a defeat to Julian Erosa via submission at UFC Vegas 36. Ewell on the other hand has lost each of his last two fights via decision to Chris Gutierrez at UFC 258 and then Julio Arce by knockout at UFC Vegas 32.
Jourdain is a powerful striker with some good wrestling skills too and excellent kicks, while Ewell is a primary boxer who is starting to learn to check kicks. For a fighter with such a huge reach, Ewell doesn’t use it nearly enough or nearly well enough. Against someone like Jourdain who is a great kicker, a natural 145er and a power puncher himself with a great gas tank, this is an uphill battle for Ewell.
Ultimately, this is Jourdain’s fight to lose. He has the edge in power, size and grappling if he chooses to use it and while Ewell is the better boxer it’s easily countered with kicks and wrestling so he should claim a decent win here. PICK – Charles Jourdain via Decision
Fast start to the fight from Procopio as she comes forward with some nice strikes before clinching up and using he strength and knees. O’Neill fires back with some fine combinations of her own, kneeing back in the clinch too and using her jab well. Procopio fires off some hard leg kicks and big right hands before clinching up again and pushing O’Neill against the cage. Lovely takedown from Procopio sees her on top with 90 seconds left but O’Neill is able to bounce back up very quickly and they start trading strikes again. Procopio using her strength to her advantage and pushing O’Neill against the cage again and the round ends with a scramble. 10-9 Procopio.
Another fast start to the second round but this time from O’Neill, as she marches forward with some good strikes and a knee before Procopio catches it and takes her down. Procopio tries to control position but O’Neill fires off some big elbows from the bottom which forces her to move and allows O’Neill to kick her off and get back up. O’Neill has picked up the pace well and Procopio struggling to cope. O’Neill takes Procopio down and lands some big elbows on the ground from side control, before grinding her elbow across the face of Procopio. Procopio tries to set up a submission from the bottom before a scramble sets up a heel hook attempt, but O’Neill stays heavy on top to defend and sees out the round with ground and pound. 19-19.
O’Neill comes out quickly again and lands some decent strikes before tripping Procopio and immediately transitioning to a crucifix position. O’Neill landing lots of ground and pound strikes but not much damage being done, although Procopio struggling to escape. She finally gets her arm free and O’Neill switches to take her back, then goes full mount and then takes her back again looking for a rear-naked choke. Procopio stands with O’Neill on her back but she locks up the choke and squeezes until Procopio drops unconscious! What a win for O’Neill!
Rick Glenn def Joaquim Silva via Knockout, Round 1 (0:37)
RICKY GLENN!! FIRST LEFT HAND OF THE FIGHT LANDS AND DROPS SILVA! He follows it up with some ground and pound and then drops Silva again and the referee ends it! What a knockout!
Interesting start in this one as Martinez steps forward straight into the pocket to close the distance and starts roughing Parisian up with some clinches and dirty boxing. Some big punches from Martinez against the cage and he lands a huge slicing elbow that cuts Parisian. Parisian fires back with a knee and then two big hooks, but Martinez closes the distance again and just misses with a one-two. Martinez landing some heavy punches, with three nice uppercuts in a clinch and Parisian is struggling.Parisian trying to fight behind a jab but Martinez slips it and counters with a huge overhand right that wobbles Parisian! They clinch up again and Martinez doing plenty of damage as the round ends. 10-9 Martinez.
Parisian takes a dominant position early in the second round, getting hold of Martinez and pushing him against the cage but Martinez is landing lots of strikes to the head to try and get him off. Parisian being very heavy and leaning on Martinez, throwing some nice knees to the body and then a big elbow to the head. More short strikes but Parisian lands an inadvertant knee to the groin to cause a pause in the action. Martinez takes the centre and puts Parisian against the cage now but he gets away and then lands a flush right hand to the chin. Another clinch and Parisian lands three big elbows in a row before they clinch again. Martinez tries to sink in a guillotine but Parisian rolls through and avoids as the round ends. 19-19, big final round incoming.
Final round and Martinez trying to push the pace again, landing a nice four punch flurry while forcing Parisian backwards. Parisian lands a nice left hook but Martinez fires back with a right overhand that connects and Parisian is wobbled! He lands three more strikes but Parisian ties him up and pushes him against the cage. Martinez forces himself off the cage and lands some more strikes but Parisian using his size to try and wear Martinez down again. Parisian looking for a takedown but Martinez denying it well against the cage and forces the break. Martinez comes forward again but Parisian throws a lazy kick to the groin and causes a break with a minute to go. Another clinch once we restart sees both guys throwing short strikes as the round ends. Close third round but I think Martinez should get the nod.
Khaos Williams def Matthew Semelsberger via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Very fast start to the fight as Williams explodes with a big punch that cracks Semelsberger right on the nose and wobbles him! Lots of blood coming from the nose as he looks to tie Williams up and recover. They eventually separate and both trade big right hooks, with Semelsberger landing nicely himself. Williams goes for a big combo after catching a kick but Semelsberger steps to the side then lands a big right hand himself to counter. Williams firing first but Semelsberger countering well, good round. 10-9 Khaos.
Early exchange from both guys as they trade powerful hooks but both miss narrowly. Semelsberger lands a flush one-two that stuns Williams but he’s okay. He comes forward again and lands a nice right hook of his own that sends Semelsberger backwards but Semelsberger now is starting to back Williams up more. Williams lands some nice leg kicks and then lands a nice counter right hook of his own as Semelsberger tries to shoot in first himself. Nice one-two again from Semelsberger and his own leg kicks are having an effect on Williams. Good charge across the cage with some wild hooks from Williams to end the round. 19-19 for me but could easily be 20-18 too.
Khaos takes the centre early on in this one and lands a few tight hooks, but Semelsberger is coming forward to try and be first now. Another leg kick gets a reaction, but Williams returns with two of his own. Beautiful combination lands from Williams that ends with a heavy left hook cutting Semelsberger over the eye, but he’s walking gingerly on his front leg now from the leg kicks. Semelsberger not throwing enough volume in this round as Williams lands two more big hooks, but Semelsberger counters with a right hook that just misses. Big right hand from Semelsberger then Williams responds with one of his own before they clinch and end the round. 29-28 Williams for me.
Virna Jandiroba def Kanako Murata via Doctor Stoppage (Arm Injury), Round 2 (5:00)
Fast start to the round from Jandiroba as she comes forward with some decent striking and catches Murata with some big one-twos. Jandiroba lands three big right hands and Murata is wobbled but she evades well and steps back. Murata closes the distance and clinches up and then Jandiroba looks to pull guard from against the cage. Murata slams her down and lands some heavy ground and pound strikes, but Jandiroba eats it and then throws up an armbar! It looks tight but Murata doesn’t tap and is able to step over and eventually get out of it, ending the round on top trying to land ground and pound. 10-9 Jandiroba.
Another good start to the round from Jandiroba as she starts throwing her big right hand early on once again. Murata is eating strikes and her left arm is clearly injured from the armbar in the first round, with Jandiroba landing a huge head kick. She follows it up with some big right hands too and Murata is defenceless at this point but still looking to fight back. 20-18.
The doctor looks at the arm between rounds and tells the referee immediately to wave it off, this one is over. Big win for Virna Jandiroba!
Nicolae Negumereanu def Aleksa Camur via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Good start early on for Camu as he lands a nice jab and is showing feints that Negumereanu is struggling to read. Two more jabs and a power right hand land too and Camur is doing well, then slips a left hand. Negumereanu finally lands a big left hand and Camur is staggered immediately, then starts turning up the pressure and lands big shots. Camur slowing down and getting hit a lot more and Negumereanu is growing into the fight. 10-9 Nicolae.
Second round and Negumereanu does really well with forward pressure and lands another nice left hand early. They clinch up against the cage and Negumereanu has the controlling position, but Camur defending himself well to keep the fight standing. Both fighters start trading hooks in the centre that land, then Negumereanu lands a big left hook before the round ends. 20-18 Nicolae but it’s close and Camur is still in it.
Final round and Negumereanu comes forward with good pressure and heavy strike attempts early on. Camur countering well but Negumereanu keeps coming forward and is really turning the pressure up. Nice jabs and Camur lands some shots of his own but Negumereanu’s chin is unreal right now. Camur goes for a takedown but it’s denied easily and then Negumereanu lands a big elbow and two left hands. Negumereanu puts Camur against the cage and holds him with strikes but gets an incredibly stern warning for holding the fence, when really he should have a point deducted at this point (he’s been warned countless times already). Final 30 seconds and they strike it out to the buzzer. Great fight but should be 30-27 Nicolae.
Matt Brown def Dhiego Lima via Knockout, Round 2 (3:02)
Slow start to this fight from both guys, with Brown taking the centre of the cage and faking for his shots while Lima throws some heavy calf kicks as usual. Nice body kick from Brown before a jab to the body as Lima throws another big calf kick. Lima slips Brown’s jab and hits two hard leg kicks before looking for a takedown, but Brown stuffs it. More hard leg kicks from Lima and while Brown looks for the jab neither guy really taking control. 10-9 Lima but this one is up in the air in reality.
Another close start to the round as Lima comes out early with leg kicks, while Brown moving gingerly already. Lima throws two leg kicks in a row and gets a reaction from Brown, but then he goes for a takedown and Brown stuffs it well. Lima using his strength advantage to get a clinch situation against the cage but Brown is stuffing them well. Lima goes for a right hand but Brown slips it and lands his own right hand straight down the middle and Lima faceplants!!! Oh my what a knockout!!! Matt Brown!!
Bruno Silva def Wellington Turman via Knockout, Round 1 (4:45)
Fast start from Turman who steps forward and goes straight for a takedown against the cage. After some back and forth, Turman is able to lift him and slam him down to the mat but Silva reverses the position and looks to control Turman against the cage. Turman uses a kimura grip to escape and he reverses and goes back to takedowns against the cage. Turman takes the back of Silva who’s standing and is looking for a rear-naked choke. Silva is able to shake him off and ends up in Turman’s guard, firing off big ground and pound strikes from top position. Silva lands a right hand then a left to the temple and Turman is out cold! Silva lands one more as the referee waves it off!! Huge win for Bruno Silva!
Seeungwoo Choi def Julian Erosa via Knockout, Round 1 (1:37)
Powerful start to the fight from Choi as he lands his big right hand on three separate occasions, but Erosa stays standing. Erosa fires back with a left hook but Choi lands another big strike and Erosa looks taken aback by his power. Choi slips, throws a right hand that just misses but follows with a big left hook that drops Erosa!! Choi jumps on with ground and pound and the referee waves it off! Huge win for Choi! Wow!
Marlon Vera def Davey Grant via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-28, 30-26)
Nice start from both guys with lots of feelers and leg kicks getting thrown in the octagon early. Grant throwing plenty of volume, with high kicks, wheel kicks and some overhand rights but Vera blocking almost everything and taking the centre. Big leg kick misses from Vera and then Grant lands a nice left hook. Grant throws a body kick but Vera catches it and puts him on his back, but Grant makes his way back up to the feet but has a cut on his forehead. Nice leg kick from Grant again but Vera responds with one of his own. Nice right hand from Vera but then he follows that with some heavy leg kicks again and Grant is switching stance. Good round, could be 10-9 either way.
Vera takes the centre in the second round and starts throwing teep kicks to the body as well as leg kicks. Vera upping the pace a little and lands a nice left hook but Grant comes back with some hooks of his own. Thai clinch from Vera and he throws four big elbow to the face that open up a big cut on Grant’s head. Head kick from Grant before another elbow from Vera and a knee to the body. Clinch and Grant manages to throw Vera onto his back and ends up in top position. Vera looks for a triangle then tries to escape but Grant keeps him down and takes side control. Nice elbows from Grant but Vera rolls out of a guillotine attempt to end up on top and start raining down ground and pound to end the round. Another close one, I think that could be Vera’s though. 19-19.
Great start to the third round from Vera again as he presses forward, gets a takedown and locks up the back. He goes for a rear-naked choke but Grant escapes, then Vera moves into full mount with an arm-triangle. Again he escapes and they end up back on the feet, when Grant lands a huge left hook that staggers Vera! Vera blocks the next one and lands a lovely straight elbow to the head and starts attacking the body of Grant and he’s hurt. Vera trips him and gets on top again and lands another big elbow that hurts Grant, then a big body shot as Grant tries to get back to his feet. One minute to go and Grant looks for a kimura but Vera defending it very well and is able to escape it and get into full mount. Grant surviving and gives up his back but Vera sinks in a rear-naked choke! Grant refuses to tap and sees out the fight! What a fight, should be a Vera win.
Serghei Spivac def Aleksei Oleinik via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Encouraging start from Spivac as he is able to escape from an immediate clinch attempt from Oleinik before landing a really nice left hook. Spivac keeping his distance and lands a nice right hand again on his break, but Oleinik fires off a hard leg kick. Oleinik goes for a single leg takedown but Spivac defends it well and currently looks too strong for Oleinik. Nice overhand right lands from Oleinik but Spivac counters with a big uppercut too. Spivac right hook misses by inches and Oleinik goes to clinch again, but Spivac clinches and finally manages to get his back and drags him down to the ground. Less than a minute to go and Oleinik is looking for a head and arm choke but then he moves into full mount and goes for a scarf hold but the buzzer goes. 10-9 Oleinik.
Second round starts and Oleinik is walking Spivac down, but the pace is slow and the power is waivering on his punches. Spivac keeps moving and then Oleinik clinches and pulls guard, which allows Spivac to throw a few strikes on the ground. Oleinik looking to sweep from the bottom but Spivac starts throwing elbows. Oleinik starts looking for submission but Spivac is controlling the position with power and landing some nice elbows and ground strikes. Spivac goes for an anaconda choke but Oleinik escapes and rolls into full mount. He switches to the scarf hold again but once more, the buzzer goes. 19-19.
Oleinik is absolutely exhausted going into the final round and Spivac opens up with a big right hook that opens a cut on Oleinik’s head. He goes for a takedown again but Spivac denies it and then lands some big shots while Oleinik is on his knees, forcing him to get up quickly. Oleinik still walking forward and throwing his big overhand right before he goes for another takedown against the cage. Spivac ends up on top and starts throwing some short elbows. Less than a minute to go and Oleinik starts throwing strikes off his back but Spivac fires back from a more dominant position and sees the round out that way. 29-28 Spivac for me.
Korean Zombie def Dan Ige via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x2, 48-47)
Nice, competitive start as Jung takes the centre and throws a nice leg kick early, then follows up with a left straight. Ige throws a few leg kicks of his own then smashes a big body shot in range and then steps out. Ige goes for another big looping hook but Jung times it and shoots under it for a takedown. Zombie on top but Ige explodes out from under him and they both get back to the feet. Zombie lands a big right hand and smells blood but Ige retreats and seems okay now. Zombie lands some nice jabs and sees out the round. Close, but 10-9 Zombie.
Both guys trade leg kicks early in the second round, with Zombie using his reach to land first as it stands. Zombie landing jabs nicely and disguising the calf kicks well too, but Ige still trying to come forward too. Nice right hand from Zombie lands and Ige shoots for a takedown, but his defence is too good and he denies it. Heavy leg kick again from Zombie but Ige shows no reaction. Ige goes for another takedown but Zombie defends it and in a scramble ends up on Ige’s back looking for a rear-naked choke but the buzzer goes. 20-18 Zombie.
Ige comes out aggressive in the third but Zombie immediately flicks out the jab and ends up in top position after getting a takedown. Ige throwing big elbows from the bottom but the Zombie lands a big slicing elbow of his own. Zombie stacks him and lands a nice shot then takes the back of Ige and goes for a rear-naked choke but Ige fighting the hands and just about surviving. Zombie has a body triangle locked up and he’s throwing some good strikes but Ige looking to tie him up and prevent the submission. Zombie goes for a crank with ten seconds to go but no chance of getting it and the buzzer goes. 30-27 Zombie, dominant so far.
Tight fourth round now as Zombie is pumping out the jab and Ige is being far more aggressive. Zombie trying to counter strike while Ige looks for an opening and he lands a big right hand. He moves for a double jab then clinches up but Zombie just moves him away and resets. Big right hand from Ige again but Zombie eats it and lands a nice counter left-hook. Ige having a much better round this time but then throws a body kick and Zombie catches it, throws a straight right hand and then gets taken down with a minute left in the round. Zombie stacks Ige and lands a bit of ground and pound before the round ends. 39-37 Zombie.
Ige knows he needs a finish and comes forward aggressively early on, but Zombie looks very composed and calm just staying behind his jab. Ige throws a nice shot to the body and follows it with a left hook and it hits hard. Zombie didn’t like it so Ige does it twice more, then stuffs a Zombie takedown! Zombie lands a nice right hand counter but Ige goes to the body again. Another takedown attempt that Ige denies but Zombie lets the jab go again. Both guys trade body shots then Zombie lands a knee that hurts Ige and he’s able to drag him down and take his back with a body triangle again. Zombie just riding out the clock as Ige tries to escape but Zombie just too strong on the ground and sees out the clock for a big win. 49-46 Zombie.
The UFC returns to the APEX this weekend for a featherweight banger of a main event as ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chang Sung Jung takes on Dan Ige.
Both men have earned a reputation as one of the better guys at 145lbs but having previously lost to the best of the best, they want to prove they’re not nearly men by getting a win in this main event.
In this 12 fight card, you also have two heavyweights in the co-main event as Aleksei Oleinik takes on Serghei Spivac while Davey Grant takes a step up in competition to take on Marlon Vera at bantamweight.
Last week at UFC 263 we had an incredible night of picks, going 10/14 with NINE perfect picks to take us up to 338/530 (63.77%) with 151 perfect picks (44.67%). We’ll look to improve that record here, starting with the six prelim bouts.
Casey O’Neill (6-0) vs Lara Procopio (7-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Both O’Neill and Procopio are very effective strikers with excellent grappling skills and are very evenly matched up. Both women have three finishes each in their career, with three submissions and three KO’s combined. O’Neill is the more aggressive takedown artist and looks to land more damage from the top position, while Procopio is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. She tends to look for control more from the top and is more reserved and slightly more experienced too.
It’s really hard to call in all honesty, because O’Neill is likely to land more damage however I think Procopio will be able to use her BJJ skills to control the grappling scenarios slightly more and just edge a win. PICK – Lara Procopio via Decision
Joaquim Silva (11-3) vs Rick Glenn (21-6-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A fun lightweight bout between two well thought of 155lbers in this one as Joaquim Silva takes on a returning Ricky Glenn. Silva makes his return to the octagon after just under two years away following a loss to Nasrat Haqparast, while Glenn returns after nearly three years away following major hip surgery where he lost to Kevin Aguilar.
It’s tough to make a prediction on this one considering they’ve been away from the cage for so long, but both guys are absolute warriors who look to slug it out from the opening bell to the end of the fight. Both guys have power with 17 KO wins between them (6-11 split) and plenty of durability too.
Silva has been away for less time and the fact that Glenn had most of his career at featherweight, I think Silva’s size will be enough to earn him victory. PICK – Joaquim Silva via Decision
Josh Parisian (13-4) vs Roque Martinez (15-7-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Parisian is a lengthy boxer type, but he has no idea how to use that reach and length to his advantage. Martinez is a brawler who will look to get into the pocket and swing away, with relatively good cardio despite what his physique might tell you. If Martinez keeps the pressure on and walks forward he’ll have a much better chance of getting a victory but Parisian has the attributes to keep him at bay if needs be.
Unfortunately for Martinez, I do think he will use those attributes. Martinez will push the pace and make it ugly which will just suit him better but I think Parisian mixes his attacks up enough to earn a win. PICK – Josh Parisian via Decision
Khaos Williams (11-2) vs Matthew Semelsberger (8-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Both these guys are absolute power strikers, who look to land strikes down the middle and take their opponent’s head off. Semelsberger throws more combinations and has a good gas tank but he has been knocked out before and if Khaos hits you clean it could well be night night. Semelsberger will look to overwhelm with volume to earn a stoppage but Khaos has a solid chin and I think he’ll be able to withstand it.
With his legit one-punch KO power, it’s hard to go against Williams in this one – but it’s a close fight either way. PICK – Khaos Williams via Knockout, Round 1
Kanako Murata (12-1) vs Virna Jandiroba (16-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A very exciting strawweight fight as Kanako Murata makes her UFC return against the excellent Virna Jandiroba. Murata has won her last eight in a row with four submissions including her debut win over Randa Markos at UFC Vegas 14, while Jandiroba looks to bounce back from a defeat to Mackenzie Dern at UFC 256.
Murata is a tremendous wrestler and is arguably now the best in the division when it comes to that specific skill, but Jandiroba is a stunning submission artists with all 13 of her stoppages coming via tap out. Murata chases takedowns no matter the opposition and during her Invicta career she took on another submission artist who almost submitted her.
Jandiroba won’t let the opportunity go and with her world class judo she may even get a takedown or three of her own, so I think Jandiroba gets the submission win from her back. PICK – Virna Jandiroba via Submission, Round 2
Aleksa Camur (6-1) vs Nicolae Negumereanu (9-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
An intriguing fight at 205lbs as Camur looks to recover from the first defeat of his career when he takes on Negumereanu who fights for the first time in over two years. Camur beat Justin Ledet in his UFC debut but was beaten by William Knight last time out at UFC 253, while Negumereanu lost his last fight via decision in March 2019.
Camur is a solid striker on the feet, with great power and accuracy but some wild technique in his arsenal while Negumereanu has as padded a record as you’re likely to see. ‘Nicu’ will need to look for takedowns and push the pace to keep Camur away from striking distance, but being capable after so long away isn’t likely.
Unless Negumereanu has improved drastically while he’s been away, I think Camur keeps the distance, avoids the takedowns and gets the win. PICK – Aleksa Camur via Decision
With eleven fights on the card scheduled, lets see what we can rustle up starting with the prelims here.
Bill Algeo (13-5) vs Spike Carlyle (9-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A four fight win streak culminated in Spike Carlyle making it into Dana White’s Contender Series, where he scored an 85 second knockout win as an underdog to get into the UFC. His debut wasn’t as successful though, as he was beaten by Billy Quarantillo back in May. Algeo lost his Contender Series fight before going away and winning again on the regional scene to get into the UFC. He also lost his debut on just 16 days’ notice, in a decision loss to Ricardo Lamas back in August. Carlyle is a great wrestler with excellent top control while Algeo is a striker who gives up takedowns like his life depends on it. While the fight is on the feet, Algeo will have the advantage but he doesn’t have the power to stop Carlyle or the ability to keep the takedowns away and this could get nasty on the ground. PICK – Spike Carlyle via Knockout, Round 2
Miguel Baeza (9-0) vs Takashi Sato (16-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
After a victorious appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series, Miguel Baeza has seen his hype levels rise with two stoppage wins against Hector Aldana and then Matt Brown back in May. Takashi Sato KO’d Ben Saunders in his debut back in 2019 but was stopped by Belal Muhammad in September of the same year. He bounced back from that with a 48-second KO win over Jason Witt in June. Both men are heavy hitters with powerful striking, and Baeza loves a chopping leg kick. I can’t imagine this one lasts very long and for me Baeza has the power advantage. That said, he got hit a lot against Matt Brown and if Sato hits him with those shots it could be lights out. With more experience at the top level, Sato gets it done as the underdog. PICK – Takashi Sato via Knockout, Round 1
Josh Parisian (13-3) vs Parker Porter (10-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A UFC debut for Josh Parisian as the Conteder Series graduate looks to add to his impressive tally of 12 finishes from 13 wins. Parker Porter lost his UFC debut to Chris Daukaus back in August when he was knocked out in the first round, ending a 4-1 run of fights. Parisian is a super strong striker, with good spinning techniques and great power while Porter is your bog standard heavyweight who plants his feet and swings for the fences. Porter is fairly slow and Parisian should be able to walk him down and drop him early for a big knockout win on his debut. PICK – Josh Parisian via Knockout, Round 1
Anthony Smith (33-16) vs Devin Clark (12-4) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
After losing in his UFC title shot to Jon Jones, Anthony Smith has since gone 1-2 after an impressive submission win against Alexander Gustafsson before being dominated by Glover Teixeira and Alexander Rakic. Devin Clark on the other hand has won three of his last four fights, all by decision including a dominant performance against Alonzo Menifield. Smith struggled with the grappling of Rakic, who is known for his striking more than anything. The size difference troubled Smith greatly and Clark will have a similar advantage. He loves a good clinch battle and should have physical strength advantage. Smith is by far the better striker and has power, but after recent performances it’s hard to think Smith will do well against this style of fight. PICK – Devin Clark via Decision
Curtis Blaydes (14-2) vs Derrick Lewis (24-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)*
The ultimate takedown vs stand up battle. Blaydes has the record for most takedowns in heavyweight history, while Lewis has the record for the most knockout wins in heavyweight history. Blaydes is currently on a four-fight win streak, including his most recent dominant decision against Alexander Volkov. Lewis is on a three-fight win streak, including his knockout of Aleksei Oleinik. That Oleinik fight doesn’t bode well for Lewis though. He was taken down and dominated on the ground by the much smaller man and only got back to his feet when the bell went to end the first round. Blaydes will take this to the ground and look to blast him out of there from top position. If Lewis somehow survives the first round, he will need a knockout just like against Oleinik but Blaydes is elite and will take it back to the ground for a dominant win. PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Knockout, Round 1